Anemoia and Zero Context Light Up Black Friday
On a sleepy night after Thanksgiving, spectacular magical music once again poured out of Dunedin Brewery as Anemoia came from Miami to shred what little was left of our brains after Zero Context mashed them up but good.
Clearly there was magic in the air for both sets of music. Zero Context opened the evening with an all-improvised set of music. Michael Lyn Bryant, proprietor of the brewery, has at least seven projects going (that I know about). Several of them, like this one, rely in part or entirely on that improvisational spirit: Follow the Monarchs, Skallop, and Brain Emoji.
For Zero Context, he was joined by the incredible rhythm section from St. Petersburg’s Anthill Cinema: Vinny Svoboda and Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris. Both players have deservedly long résumés and both quite adept at the demands of improvisation.
Setlist? We don’t need no stinkin’ setlist! Bryant, who can play drums, Moog, keyboards, and guitar (and rap), confined his performance to the Ableton Push which, with its colored square keyboard, resembled a child’s toy. It was anything but. It is the controller for Ableton Live computer software that produces sounds — anything imaginable. Bryant played it as a keyboard — I am so far out of my depth here I will stop, except to say it was fabulous.
Much of the responsibility for the melodies fell to Svoboda on bass, and he is precisely the man you want in this situation. He is a superb player in any context, but here he was at his most free, and the results were deluxe. He and Morris are so tightly woven together that the hour the trio performed went by in a flash.
(Did I manage to get a single photograph of them? That would be NO.)
After a brief set break, Anemoia were on stage and ready to go. The band had played Dunedin in August, opening for prog rock master Electric Kif; Armando Lopez plays drums for both bands. He was joined by Andres Ferret, bass, and Aaron Lebos, guitar and many, many, many pedals.
This is as good a place as any to discuss great guitarists. There is no point in talking about “greatest.” At best, that would mean greatest you’ve heard, discounting the 99.9% of guitarists you haven’t. Favorite is better, although that again speaks to ones you know about.
So I cannot tell you that Aaron Lebos is one of the greatest guitarists in the world; he’s only one of the greatest I’ve had the privilege to hear perform, a number of times. These last two performances with Anemoia have been, for me, legendary. His use of multiple amazing techniques unravels my brain. And he can do this, in part, because he is so well matched by Ferret and Lopez.
This trio is impossibly tight, reminding of bands such as Consider the Source. Their compositions are mind-boggling, most relatively short. They’re not jams; they’re fully constructed works, improvisationally based. There was, delightfully, some jamming when on two occasions he invited trumpeter Jason Charos to the stage. What emerged was classic jazz tinged with fusion, reminiscent of Miles Davis and Charles Tolliver and other greats; Charos was a perfect fit.
Lopez, like most drummers these days, employs one of those warped-looking cymbals. I asked Morris what the appeal was. “They sound like hands clapping,” he said. And immediately afterward they began a song with Lopez on that cymbal: hands clapping!
Ferret wears the most engaging face when playing, bouncing back and forth, grinning ear to ear, laying down complicated bass lines to fit the compositions.
There was also a delightful moment when they played “People Everywhere,” the Khruangbin tune. That was serendipitous, because I was just thinking of how much Lebos’ playing reminded me at times of Mark Speer’s. They offered up a tune from the group’s second album, due to be released December 10, and they closed their set with a cover of an Erik Satie tune from their eponymous debut: “Gnossienne No. 1,” unlike any Satie you’ve ever encountered before.
All too soon, the evening was over, although the magic hung in the air for quite some time. Kudos to sound engineer Chris Fama for another great night allowing us to hear musicians play to full advantage.